Last Friday afternoon, Sherpa's Research Director Stefan Tornquist sent our readers a quick invite to take a two-page Q&A for our 2005 Email Benchmark Study.
So far 1,585 of you have responded -- thanks! -- and Stefan's already greedily eyeing the data. He wants to close the questionnaire ASAP to begin his analysis (you know what research guys are like), but I begged him for a reprieve until this Wednesday 9am ET so as many as you as possible can be included.
Next, we'll send you a complimentary Executive Summary of the results -- including a new charts you can use for your budgeting and forecasting for 2006. In the meantime, I nipped into the database to look over numbers so far (don't tell Stefan) and spotted one alarming trend:
-> 66% of respondents say they don't remove inactive names from their lists... ever.
An inactive name is someone who signed up for your email, and then after a while stopped opening it and stopped clicking on links. Their address is still good, so you're not getting bounces. You're just not getting any indications whatsoever that that person is remotely interested in your mailings.
This concerns me tremendously.
Why? Because studies show the vast majority of people don't unsubscribe from lists they don't want to be on anymore. They delete instead. Then, after a while, many begin to think of that unwanted sender as a spammer.... From that point it's a short hop potentially being reported as such to their ISP.
Result: both your brand and your deliverability may suffer.
How long should you leave an inactive name on your list before yanking? Well, first you might try a re-activation campaign or questionnaire designed to figure out which names still like getting your mail even though they ultra-rarely act on it.
Also, if you can, run some analytics to see how many of past inactive names were in a "lull" for a while but then snapped back into action. Do some readers open once every three months, or once every six? Or perhaps just every holiday season?
Depending on your content, consider segmenting these names for less frequent mailings than your regular file gets. Or just dump them altogether after awhile -- for safety's sake.
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